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Jim’s Australiana Spot – 2UE - March 6, 2016

      Rebellion in Sydney!

122 years ago today Sydney was under martial law! There were 3 'mutinies' in Sydney in colonial times - Vinegar Hill was the worst!

1 Why was the lie told to Samuel Marsden, that the Irish wanted to return home in steel ships, obviously nonsense?
  Britain ruled Ireland at the time
2 What exactly is the rule of POSSE COMITATUS?
  In civil riots soldiers cannot be used except as ordinary citizens
3 What % of Aussies have Irish descent today?
  About one third

The Castle Hill Rebellion of 1804 culminated in a battle fought between convicts and soldiers on 5 March 1804 at Rouse Hill  and dubbed the Second Battle of Vinegar Hill after the first one of 1798 in Ireland. It was the first and only major convict uprising. It  was and attempt to TAKE OVER the colony and establish NEW IRELAND!

On 4 March 1804, according to the 'official' accounts 233 convicts led by Philip Cunningham escaped from a prison farm intent on "capturing ships to sail to Ireland". In response, martial law was quickly declared in the Colony of New South Wales. The mostly Irish rebels, having gathered reinforcements, were hunted by the colonial forces until they were sequestered on 5 March 1804 on a hillock nicknamed Vinegar Hill. Cunningham was arrested during a parlay and troops charged and the rebellion was crushed. Nine of the rebel leaders were executed and hundreds were punished before martial law was finally revoked on 12 March 1804.

On the evening of 4 March 1804, a hut at Castle Hill was set afire as the signal for the rebellion to begin. This fire was not seen by the convicts at Green Hills, today's Windsor, on the Hawkesbury River. With Cunningham leading, the rebels broke into the Government Farm's buildings, taking firearms, ammunition, and other weapons. The constables and overseers were overpowered and the rebels then went from farm to farm on their way to Constitution Hill at Parramatta, seizing more weapons and supplies including rum and spirits. Their bold move had been well informed from the intelligence gathered a year previous when 12 convicts de-camped from Castle Hill scouring the surrounding districts seeking out friends and sympathisers. On capture each and every one had the same story - they were heading to China by crossing over the Blue Mountains.

When news of the uprising spread there was great panic amongst the colony of around 5,000 inhabitants fleeing the area by boat,  Samuel Marsden escorted John Muckrakers wife and children to safety. An informer had advised that an attack would be made on the farm to draw troops away from Parramatta. In Sydney the crew of an American schooner and the Sydney Loyal Association militia took over guard duties and a contingent of 29 soldiers marched at forced-march pace through the night under Major George Johnston from the Annandale barracks, and arrived at Parramatta about four hours later not long after Governor Phillip King, who declared martial law under the Mansfield doctrine of posse comitatus.

During the battle (at least) fifteen rebels had fallen, according to the official reports, Major Johnston prevented further bloodshed and killings by threatening his troops with his pistol tempering their enthusiasm. Several convicts were captured and others killed in the pursuit which went up to Windsor all day until late in the night, with new arrivals of soldiers from Sydney joining in the search for rebels. Large parties who lost their way in the night turned themselves in under the Amnesty or made their way back to Castle Hill.

Muster records from just before and not long after the uprising indicate over 150 were dead, no records of their names can be found. The Quakers over the next few months cleared and buried the dead where they fell. Local reports indicate firing could be heard for several days later.


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